Noilly Prattle: Sunday stroll in the park

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sunday stroll in the park

     The other day we decided to kill three birds with one stone: have a late lunch/early dinner at our favorite Indian curry restaurant, rent a DVD for a second look at The Da Vinci Code and walk in the UNDOUKOEN (sports park)--all within walking distance of each other.

reconstruction of a Yayoi village
Yayoi event button souvenir
      As we were approaching one of the entrances to the park I noticed a group of policemen standing around sporting billy clubs around their waists. This being out of the ordinary I pointed them out to Road Buddy and wondered why they were there. There was a cultural event going on in the park focusing on life in Japan's prehistoric past (Yayoi period, 300 BC – 300 AD) with booths set up for hands on experiences such as making fire with a kind of fire stick, etc. (I tried it but failed to make the thing do more than smoke a little.) I also got a couple of buttons with cute cartoons of Yayoi artifact samples. This event seemed to me to be too innocuous to merit police protection or, conversely, surveillance.

riot police for crowd disturbance control
      After my failed attempt to make fire, I started to notice other groups of police at other entrances to the park some of them decked out in riot control gear and carrying firearms. Things were looking surpassing strange. When we came upon an area of the park that was loosely roped off we could see that there was some kind of large event complete with music, a traditional dance performance on an outdoor stage, food booths and other booths featuring various displays and lots of banners and signs which I couldn't read very well.

Citizens, along with Diet members
 of the Japanese Communist Party
and Social Democratic Party,
call for the preservation of the nation's Constitution.
(Asahi Shimbun file photo)
      Road Buddy, who could read the signs, told me that it was an annual convention of the Japan Communist Party. Since it was easy to slip under the cordon (and other people were doing it anyway) we slipped in to have a look around. As we walked around we talked about the political picture in Japan in recent years. 

     There is an extreme right-wing organization in Japan that is characterized by its deep hostility to Communism and the Teacher's Union which advocates Liberal issues such as Socialism and is opposed to the changing of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution (the so-called Peace Article). The right wing is militaristic and blatantly and loudly goes around in black vehicles festooned with Japanese flags and patriotic slogans blaring loud martial music and propaganda harangues on high decibel loud speakers. They are protected by freedom of speech and appear to be immune to any kind of charges of disturbing the peace. There have been clashes between the right-wingers and the Teachers Union at events such as conferences and conventions.

black bus with flags and slogans
Imperial chrysanthemum logo
of the Japanese Emperor
      That seemed to explain the presence of so many police at the various entrances to the park and I remarked to RB that I'd be willing to bet that the police were there to prevent any trouble between the Communist Party convention attendees and the right-wingers. Hardly was this speculation voiced when, well, didn't we hear the loudspeakers of the right-wing trucks cruising around in the street outside the park.

      We just looked at each other, I shrugged and rolled my eyes.

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